Minnesota is known for its outdoor sports during the winter months, but if your family is like my family, not everyone wants to play pond hockey seven days a week for hours on end. So what does a family do for a little variety and inside fun until the snow melts? Thankfully Minnesotans are the masters of indoor activities, and there are hundreds of things to do in temperature-controlled environments around town. Here are some of my favorites even the pickiest player can’t argue with.
400 10th St. NW
St. Paul, Minn.
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Sun., 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Cost: Children $5, free for adults
Combine a ball pit, eight-foot climbing wall, a triple slide and many other foam-friendly structures and you’ve got a toddler’s play paradise. There is even an area for little ones under the age of three and a reading corner.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 7th St. W
St. Paul, Minn.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Sun., 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Cost: $8.95 per adult and per child, museum members are free
What’s the mission of the Minnesota Children’s Museum? Learning through play. From now until early 2012 children can do just that at Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, combining seven picture books into an engaging literary adventure, and Rainforest Adventure, which introduces kids to rainforests throughout the world. Located in downtown Saint Paul, the museum was voted in 2011 as one of the 10 best children’s museums in the nation by Parents magazine.
Water Park of America
Radisson Hotel Bloomington by Mall of America
1700 E. American Blvd.
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Cost: $24.95-$34.95 all day, $19.95-$27.95 half day, pricing based on time of year, call 952-854-8700 for details
Sometimes you don’t need to go far away from home to experience summer during the winter months. Billed as America’s biggest indoor water park, the Water Park of America is located at the Radisson Hotel directly across the street from Mall of America. The entire family can don swimsuits for a day and splash away in 300,000 gallons of water that fill the entire park. There are 12 slides, including the Eagles Nest, which travels five floors down to the main park. In addition to the multitude of slides, there are floating pools, wave pools, family raft rides, body slides and hot springs hot tubs.
825 Flying Cloud Dr.
Hours: Mon., 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Tues.-Thurs., 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Fri., 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., Sat.-Sun., 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Cost: Driving range, $9.90-$13.80 half hour, Mini golf, Adults $7.50, Kids $6.50
Think you have to hang up your clubs in the winter? Think again. GolfZone is the only all-season year-around golf center in Minnesota. Indoor 18-hole mini golf is available, along with 40 heated stalls with full-length range. There’s an indoor practice green, and you can even have your child’s winter birthday party in the GolfZone party room, complete with mini golf and pizza.
13310 Industrial Park Blvd., Ste. 160
Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 3:00-8:00 p.m., Fri., 12:00-9:00 p.m.,
Sat., 10:00 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun., 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Cost: 30 minutes $8, 60 minutes $12, 90 minutes $16, 120 minutes $20
Just jump! The SkyZone Sports indoor trampoline park is a great way to burn off energy while creating a lot of laughs. There is a special area for jumpers age 5 or younger, and private court rentals are available for larger groups. Check the SkyZone website for special SkyMania nights and more information about SkyRobics 4Kids, a special five week fitness program for children and teens.
Sea Life Minnesota
Mall of America
120 East Broadway
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Fri., 9:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.,
Sat., 8:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Sun., 9:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Cost: Adults $22.04 ($16.53 online), Children (3-12 years) $17.63 ($11.01 online), Children under 3 are free. Family Four Pack includes two adult, two child, two guidebooks and a souvenir photo for $74.99.
Over 40 displays and 10,000 creatures await at Sea Life Minnesota. Located in the Mall of America, families can watch live feeding demonstrations and touch crab, starfish and find out how sea squirters really squirt! For an additional $6.43 families can explore the lab at Sea Life, and learn how they feed 100 pounds of food for the animals each day. Note that tickets purchased online are sold at discounted rate.
Minnesota Transportation Museum
Jackson Street Roundhouse
193 Pennsylvania Ave. E.
Saint Paul, Minn. 55130
Hours: Wed. and Sat., 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
A former steam engine maintenance facility, the Jackson Street Roundhouse is one of the surviving buildings from a bygone area of The Great Northern Railway. Visitors can view exhibits about the local rail industry and watch a still-operational roundhouse turntable in action. But perhaps the coolest part of a visit to the roundhouse is looking inside restored passenger train cars. If your little ones are all about trains after a visit, take them to Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store at 2050 Marshall Ave. in Saint Paul for even more train fun.
The Children’s Theater Company
2400 Third Ave.
Hours: Vary by show
Call ticket office 612-874-044
Cost: Vary by show
The mission of the Children’s Theater Company is to create extraordinary theater experiences and to advance theater as a means of educating, challenging and inspiring young people. This mission can be easily seen through the theater’s history, which has produced plays from the humorous to the classics. Productions currently playing are A Wrinkle in Time, which will be on stage until Dec. 4, and The Wizard of Oz, on stage until Jan. 8.
Colleen McGuire is a digital marketing communications professional and author of the blog, Travel Snapshots. When she is not touring the Twin Cities for interesting festivals and events, she is wandering the world with her camera and iPad.